What there is to know
- Two NYPD officers, Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora, died after being shot in Harlem on Friday while responding to a domestic violence call
- Rivera’s funeral is scheduled for Friday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral; Mora’s funeral will take place on February 2
- Accused shooter Lashawn McNeil died of his injuries on Monday after being shot by a third officer
Huge crowds of friends, fellow officers, family members and other mourners will say their final goodbyes on Friday to a 22-year-old NYPD officer who was fatally shot a week ago in Harlem.
The eerie sounds of Amazing Grace pierced the crisp morning air as Officer Jason Rivera’s casket, draped in a green, white and blue NYPD flag, was carried to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for his wake Thursday afternoon, at the same site where his funeral will be Friday at 9 a.m.
The NYPD said parts of Fifth Avenue will be closed beginning at 6 a.m. Friday. Members of the public wishing to pay their respects are asked to congregate on the east side of Fifth Avenue from 49th Street and southbound.
After the funeral, Rivera’s casket, draped in a green, white and blue NYPD flag, will be taken by funeral procession with family, members of the 32nd Precinct and an entourage of police motorcycles to Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. , where Rivera will be cremated and buried.
Thursday’s public hearing for the officer lasted into the evening, in which dozens of grieving loved ones and New Yorkers mourned the shortened life, while Rivera simply did his duty in a job that he liked.
Police officers from his Harlem neighborhood as well as officers from across the country and as far away as Jordan came in uniform to say their brother in blue will never be forgotten. Mayor Eric Adams paid his respects in the afternoon.
There was also an incredible show of support from non-policing New Yorkers, who waited in the freezing temperatures to say goodbye. Some, like Frank Pena, knew Rivera: he owns the Inwood drug store where Rivera worked during his college years.
Pena said Rivera was proud of his Dominican roots and loved the city and wanted to serve it.
“Jason was something special. From the start, from when I first saw him, he was pure bliss. Wanting to help people, always wanting to be a police officer,” Pena said. “There was something special, always helping people. Everything. It’s really hard to bear.”
Marisa Caraballo, a former neighbor of the Rivera family in the heavily Dominican neighborhood, said her mother objected when he told her he wanted to become a police officer. She said it was dangerous, but Rivera insisted and her mother relented.
“She said, ‘Okay. I support you,'” Caraballo said.
In an essay describing why he became a police officer, Rivera recalled the injustice of being pulled over in a taxi and seeing officers search his brother.
“My perspective on the police and how they are police really bothered me,” Rivera wrote. But he said he became interested in becoming a cop himself because he saw the department “pushing hard” to improve community relations.
Rivera’s wife, Dominique Rivera, posted on Instagram that she and her husband have been friends since childhood. She shared a message he wrote to her at school, saying he loved her and wanted to marry her.
After their wedding last October, Dominique wrote that Rivera was her “soulmate, best friend and lover from now until the end of time.”
“But now your soul will spend the rest of my days with me, through me, right next to me,” Dominique wrote in a photo from her husband’s police locker. “I love you until the end of time.”
Jason Rivera remembers
Rivera called Inwood home, and so many people in his neighborhood will always remember the kid who always wanted to be a cop.
“Like a family. I miss him a lot. I still don’t believe it, I still don’t believe it,” said his friend Jose Torres. “Everybody loved him. Every customer asked for him. On the phone, every time it rings, ‘I want to talk to Jason.'”
Torres fondly recalls working side-by-side with Rivera at Inwood Pharmacy when they were teenagers. A few years ago, co-workers surprised Rivera with a cake while working the cash register on his birthday. The video showed the young man smiling and happy as everyone celebrated for him.
For the third night, the community came together to hold a vigil for the two officers shot dead in Harlem after responding to a domestic disturbance call. Reporting by NBC New York’s Jessica Cunnington.
Torres said Rivera’s dream had always been to be a cop, and even before joining the NYPD he was dedicated to a life of service.
“He used to go outside. Homeless people were hungry. He would go to the store and buy them food,” Torres said.
When Rivera got the job and put on the uniform, he was stopping by the pharmacy all the time.
“I was happy for him. He told me look, dreams come true,” Torres said.
Two NYPD officers, Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora, died after being shot in Harlem on Friday while responding to a domestic violence call. Reporting by NBC New York’s Jessica Cunnington.
After a struggle lasting several days, Rivera’s partner, Officer Wilbert Mora, also died from injuries sustained in the shootout. The 27-year-old was taken off life support at a Manhattan hospital four days after he was shot by a gunman who shot him while on a domestic disturbance call. Before he died, Mora’s heart, liver, pancreas, and two kidneys were donated to others.
Mora’s viewing service will also be held on February 1 from 1 to 8 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, with the funeral the following day at 10 a.m.
Mora and Rivera “were dedicated, courageous and compassionate officers, beloved by many. The pain felt by their families is immeasurable. We pray for them; we will be strong for them,” NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said in a post after Mora’s death.
Governor Kathy Hochul announced that flags on state buildings will be lowered to half-mast Friday in honor of Rivera and Mora.
Accused shooter Lashawn McNeil, who was shot by a third officer, died on Monday.
NYPD officer Jason Rivera always wanted to be a cop. One of his former colleagues remembered the 22-year-old who achieved his dream before his life was cut short by a gunman. Reporting by Marc Santia of NBC New York.
The officers’ deaths echo the 2014 murders of another pair of officers, Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, who were shot by a man who ambushed them while they were sitting in their patrol car. This was the last time multiple NYPD officers were killed in the same incident; only five such incidents have occurred in the past 20 years, not including the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Auxiliary Police Officers Yevgeniy Borisovitch and Nicholas Pekearo were shot dead in Greenwich Village on March 14, 2007. The two men were pursuing a suspect who had just shot and killed a worker inside a pizzeria.
In 2004, Detectives Patrick Rafferty and Robert Parker were shot and killed after arriving at the scene of a domestic violence suspect attempting to steal a car on September 10. On March 10, 2003, Detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin were shot and killed in their car after the two were discovered to be police officers during a Staten Island drug-related sting operation.
Mora and Rivera were the first NYPD officers killed in the line of duty by a gunman since 2017, when Miosotis Familia, 48, was ambushed while writing in a notebook at a command post mobile from the Bronx. Two officers killed in 2019 died by friendly fire.
The deaths of Officer Wilbert Mora, who died Tuesday, and Officer Jason Rivera mark the first time two officers have been killed together in the line of duty since 2014. NBC New York’s Jessica Cunnington reports.
NYPD shooting timeline of events
Rivera, Mora and another uniformed officer responded to a domestic disturbance call around 6:15 p.m. Jan. 21 on West 135th Street by a mother who said she was fighting with her son, police say. She did not mention any injuries or weapons during the call.
After officers arrived, they went to a back bedroom, where McNeil fired several times as they approached the door. The man then attempted to flee the apartment, but was confronted by the third officer, rookie cop Sumit Sulan, who shot him twice.
In addition to the gun he was shooting, sources say another gun was found under his bed, one privately assembled from parts purchased and registered in Michigan. The joint ATF/NYPD firearms task force was still trying to figure out how the AR-15-type assault weapon came into McNeil’s possession, a senior law enforcement official said.
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A bullet was found in the chamber of the second gun, law enforcement officials said, along with 19 others in a magazine.
Sources previously said McNeil’s mother told police she didn’t know he had guns in the apartment.
According to several senior officials with direct knowledge of the investigation, the accused shooter, McNeil, has a history of increasingly rabid belief in anti-government conspiracy theories. Officials are also investigating the possibility that McNeil continued firing after the officers fell, and before he charged down a hallway and was shot.